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U.S. authorities intercept Central Americans smuggling off coast of jamaica

July 20, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
U.S. authorities intercept Central Americans smuggling off coast of jamaica

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In what has become a common occurrence, U.S. authorities have apprehended another group of Central Americans for drug trafficking in the Caribbean.

Andrés Alberto Dávila-Méndoza, Julio Bravo Pineda, Otman Sing González, and an unidentified minor were caught by the U.S. Coast Guard on their boat in Jamaican waters. Court records indicate that Coast Guard personnel discovered bales containing a significant amount marijuana.

U.S. officials transported the men, who have pleaded not guilty, to Miami where they remain in custody awaiting trial on federal drug trafficking charges.

This is the most recent incident in a significant number of similar boat seizures by U.S. officials in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific in operations focused on intercepting water routes utilized by Mexican and Colombian drug cartels.

U.S. authorities have arrested hundreds of Colombians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans  and have stood trial in Miami in the years since maritime drug-trafficking routes have flourished.

According to the Miami Herald, this most recent case began on June 4th when a U.S. patrol aircraft observed a boat in the water about 19 miles south of the coast of Jamaica.

The aircraft informed the Coast Guard cutter Confidence, which obtained permission from the Jamaican government to investigate.

A criminal complaint filed by Homeland Security stated: “When the Coast Guard small boat approached the go-fast vessel, they observed multiple packages on board the vessel, ten large fuel barrels, and four crew members on board the go-fast vessel.”

The captain of the boat, who identified himself as Nicaraguan, informed officials that his boat was licensed in Costa Rica.

When authorities boarded the vessel, they intercepted 164 bales of marijuana that weighed approximately 7,700 pounds.

After the men had been detained and brought to the U.S., the defendants admitted to authorities that they were smuggling the marijuana bales from Jamaica to Costa Rica when the boat engines failed in Jamaican territorial waters.

When the crewmen first traveled to Jamaica, they also admitted that they were transporting cocaine.

A grand jury in Miami officially indicted the crewmen on June 8th, and they pleaded not guilty three days later.

Homeland Security refused to comment on the investigation, and the defense attorneys have not responded to requests for comment.

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